Na Sang-ho, the national team’s ‘swearing’, is the K-League’s representative goal scorer
On July 27 last year, the E-1 Championship (East Asian Cup) Korea-Japan match. When Korea lost to Japan 0-3, the blame went to striker Na Sang-ho (27, FC Seoul). He was pointed out as the victim of a crushing defeat as he made too many pass misses and was blocked from breaking through. After returning to the K-League, perhaps feeling intimidated, he fell into a swamp of sluggishness, with no goals in 13 consecutive games.
Na Sang-ho, who we met at GS Champions Park in Guri, Gyeonggi-do on the 24th, said, “At the time, I could only think of two ways: I would overcome it or quit soccer.” came,” he said.
In the 2023 season, he rose to the K-League representative goal scorer. He tied for the top scorer with Ulsan Rubikson (30, Sweden) with 5 goals. In the Super Match against Suwon on the 22nd, he scored 4 goals in a row and led the team to a 3-1 victory.
When asked about the secret, the answer came back, “Thanks to (Hwang) Uijo hyung.” Hwang Eui-jo (31) and Na Sang-ho, who became close while working together at the 2018 Jakarta Palembang Asian Games, had Hwang Eui-jo wear a Seoul uniform and eat rice together ahead of this season.
Every home game, Na Sang-ho goes to Hwang Ui-jo’s house the day before, sleeps with him, has breakfast together, and goes to the stadium. He said, “There is a four-year age gap with Uijo who doesn’t even look good (if they are lovers),” and “As we talked about how to move and score goals, while doing image training, my concentration on the ground increased.”
In the match against Daegu on the 8th and against Suwon on the 22nd, where Hwang Ui-jo and Na Sang-ho both scored goals at the same time, coincidentally fellow striker Palosevich (30, Serbia) also succeeded in scoring. Na Sang-ho smirked, saying, “Please call us the ‘Hwangtrumpet Trio’ with the first letter.”
Na Sang-ho is putting in a series of difficult shots this season. In the match against Ulsan last month, he scored with a surprise no-turn mid-range shot, and in the match against Pohang on the 15th, instead of a free kick aimed at his teammate’s head from the left side outside the penalty box, where the shooting angle was not good, he outwitted the opponent with a right-footed kick aimed directly at the empty space left of the goalkeeper. It stabbed and split the net.
In soccer, the value calculated by calculating the probability of scoring a goal in a specific shooting position and situation is called xG (Expected Goals). Na Sang-ho’s score (5 goals) divided by xG (1.71) was 2.92, the highest among K-League players who scored 3 or more goals this season. It means that the decision to create a goal in a limited chance was that good.
He said, “It was luck, but confidence was the basis.” Last year’s World Cup in Qatar was a turning point. In the midst of criticism that “I don’t have the skills, but Bento is moderated,” Na Sang-ho started as a right midfielder in the first leg of the group stage against Uruguay.
“I thought that if I couldn’t show myself because of the pressure of the World Cup, I would be no more than that level of player anyway. But once I stepped on the ground, I thought it would be really fun. I was determined to give it a try.”
Na Sang-ho, who was ordered to play a defensive role by Bento, contributed to a 0-0 draw by effectively blocking Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez (24) along with right-back Kim Moon-hwan (28, Jeonbuk). In the second leg (2-3 loss) against Ghana, who entered as a substitute at the start of the second half, he accurately stabbed a pass to Son Heung-min from midfield in the 16th minute of the second half, which led to Cho Kyu-seong’s second header goal through Kim Jin-soo’s cross. He was one of the proud protagonists of Korea’s 16th round.
Another person who gave Nah Sang-ho confidence was Napoli striker Hvica Kvarachhelia (22, Georgia). While watching Napoli games often to watch his friend Kim Min-jae play, Hbica caught his eye.
“Hvica is really bold in dribbling, but there are many scenes where he fails. Still, it was impressive to see them not shrinking and continuing to try and eventually break through. I realized the importance of self-confidence while watching Hvitsa.”
Having won the hearts of fans with his performance at the World Cup in Qatar, he is happy to be able to play soccer in front of many fans all season. Seoul mobilized an average of 29,000 spectators at home games this season.
In terms of performance, they are currently in 3rd place (16 points, 5 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses), leading Ulsan (22 points), who defeated Incheon 1-0 on the 25th, and Pohang (19 points), who defeated Suwon Samsung 1-0. are chasing From 9-7-9 in the last three seasons, it is finally in the mood to make progress this year. 메이저놀이터
Na Sang-ho is evaluated as a ‘hexagonal’ player with shooting, passing, dribbling, power, speed, and defense. He said, “It’s an undeserved compliment,” but he said, “I’ll try to make the hexagon bigger in the future.”
Na Sang-ho said, “Last year, I got stronger as I overcame a really difficult process,” and “I look forward to the rest of my soccer life even more.” Like my friends born in 1996 in the national team, such as Kim Min-jae (Napoli), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton), and Hwang In-beom (Olympiacos), I want to challenge myself on the European stage someday.
He said, “Right now, the goal in front of me is to recreate the old glory of Seoul,” and “I really want to give Seoul fans the K-League championship cup.” Seoul’s last championship was in 2016.